Respect other's privacy--it's the law

A New Cybercrime…Spying On Your Spouse?

In his introduction to the Trusted Advisor Mastery Program launched in November, 2010, Charlie Green talks about the skills for being a trusted advisor including “doing the right thing, in the moment, as it’s called for.”

What does this have to do with cybercrime and spouses? According to an article posted by the Detroit Free Press, and a follow up article posted a few weeks later, a husband is currently being prosecuted under a state statute designed for trade secret theft. His alleged crime? Reading his wife’s emails; he used her password and found out she was having an affair. Of course, there’s more to the story in the articles. They’re divorced now.

As a former practicing lawyer, I find the legal issues interesting – see Peter Vogel’s technology law column in the e-Commerce Times. More intriguing to me as a business development and executive coach are the boundaries of privacy in relationships and what doing “the right thing” really means. After all, not everything we do in life can, or should be, regulated by law.

In a family, talking about boundaries help clarify expectations and behaviors. Respecting boundaries can engender trust; violating boundaries destroys it. In my home, my wife expects me to open her snail mail relating to financial or family matters, even if they are addressed solely to her. However, I don’t open her personal mail. For emails, Social Media communicating (including texts and Facebook), unless they ask, I don’t look at my wife’s or kids’ computers or cell phones. When I’m in front of their computers or cell phones for a reason, I may glance at the screen, but even that feels intrusive. It’s just the wrong thing to do in my family because of how we’ve chosen to respect each other’s privacy.

So while the criminal court determines in the Detroit case whether a statute has been violated, the rest of us need to pay attention to “doing the right thing in the moment, as it’s called for.” And when that involves boundaries in relationships, as I often ask my coaching clients, “What’s the best way to find out how other people feel, believe, or think?” about these types of issues. There’s only one right answer: ask them.

2 replies
  1. Andrea Howe
    Andrea Howe says:

    Stewart, you packed a lot of punch into a very short blog post – well done! I especially love the question you ask coaching clients at the end: “What’s the best way to find out how other people feel, believe, or think?” We humans seem to spend a lot of time wondering, assuming, conjecturing … when in fact the most trust-based approach is to simply ask. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply

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